We've just moved into Hackney Down Studios and heard that the brilliant artist and designer Archie Proudfoot also has a studio here, so we thought we'd give him a visit. Archie creates beautiful hand painted shop signs and bold gold leaf designs. He has well and truly mastered his craft and his work can be found in galleries, bespoke prints and some rather famous shop fronts.
How did you first get into making signs?
I did a week long course with a guy called Joby Carter who runs Carter's Steam Fair, a Victorian-styled steam-powered fun fair. The rides are all original Victorian restorations. It was very difficult because it hammered home how hard hand painting signs is, but I loved it and learnt the traditional process of sign painting. After the course I didn’t practise it for a while because I found the level of difficulty quite intimidating. A opportunity then came up to paint a family-friend's shop front in Herne Hill so I went for it. The shop had the longest name and it was a freezing cold winter, but I really enjoyed it and knew I had to pursue painting signs in whatever way I could.
Talk us through your typical work day?
My work day varies a lot, I could be at my studio doing early stage sketching for clients or personal work, or I could be preparing a pattern for a shop front, or perhaps hand painting glass and signs. Some weeks I can be in my studio and some weeks I’m out about and on site painting shop signs, its a good mix.
What are you up to at the moment work wise?
I have just sent off a load of glass paintings and signs for the Affordable Art Fair. I am being represented by My Life In Art and I’m really excited to see how it goes.
Why do you think there is still a demand for hand painted signs?
I think people got bored of seeing digitally produced lettering, particularly my generation. Traditional methods have been lost and people like to see things being done by hand, especially now we are living in a computer controlled world. There is something romantic and unique about sign painting which both young and old generations enjoy.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
The nice thing about my work is that its quite unpredictable, you don’t know what is going to come along or who might ask you to do something. I am really enjoying just going with the flow. One of my aims is to do a public mural which is more decorative and not as commercial as some of the previous work I’ve done.